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U-Multirank gets new backers as EU cuts funding

A new financial structure will see the mould-breaking international university ranking U-Multirank move away from its dependency on the European Union.

1,500 universities are compared on the European-focused U-Multirank site. Photo: http://www.umultirank.org/

Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Santander Group have agreed together to provide half the funding

Two philanthropic bodies – the Bertelsmann Foundation from Germany and Spain’s Santander Group – have agreed to share the running of U-Multirank with the European Commission.

U-Multirank claims to be the largest global university ranking and showcases nearly 1,500 universities from 99 countries.

It was launched with support from the EU’s Erasmus+ programme in 2013 to provide an alternative approach to comparing university performance, and claims to be more student-orientated than traditional league tables.

“Ensuring that U-Multirank remains an accessible open source platform for everyone is important to us”

It allows users to create their own ‘readymade’ rankings for everything from studying abroad to knowledge transfer and co-publications with industry.

The PIE News first reported that the European Commission was looking to reduce its financial commitment  – and share its responsibilities – in April.

The Commission provided €4 million over the last four years in seed funding to get the multi-dimensional rankings off the ground.

Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Santander Group have agreed to provide half the funding to take U-Multirank to its next level.

The European Commission will remain a partner, at least for the next two years, and has pledged 50% of the funding, up to €600,000 per-year, with funds coming from the Erasmus+ budget.

U-Multirank co-leader, Dr Frank Ziegele, from the Centre for Higher Education in Germany, told The PIE News that the message of political independence is a key point to this change in funding supply.

“The European Commission remains committed to the success of U-Multirank”

“We don’t expect any major changes in our approach to the rankings, but it sends out a useful message about our political independence.

“Right from the start we did face criticism, especially from the UK, that U-Multirank was too close to the European Commission and the European political project,” Ziegele said.

Ziegele added that the international context and content of U-Multirank was key to the new investment.

“The new partners particularly like the idea of an information tool for students to support international mobility.”

Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, welcomed the new partners and cemented the

“The European Commission remains committed to the success of U-Multirank and its continued independence as a transparency tool which helps prospective students make informed study choices.”

Santander and Bertelsmann will also sit on the board of U-Multirank.

Javier Rogla, senior vice president and global head of Santander Universities and Universia in Santander Group,  said the group is pleased to contribute to the broadening of global education.

“Ensuring that U-Multirank remains an accessible open source platform for everyone is important to us. We are committed to its success and contribution to broadening transparency and measuring the performance of universities and colleges around the globe.”

Although funded by Erasmus+ for the last four years, U-Multirank has been run as an independent consortium.

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